LeoTolstoy (1828 –1910) was a Russian writer who primarily wrote novels and shortstories. Later in life, he also wrote plays and essays. His War and Peace andAnna Karenina, are acknowledged as two of the greatest novels of all time.
In theshort story “Three Questions” Leo Tolstoy explores the theme of wisdom,acceptance, kindness, and forgiveness. The story is about a king who wants toknow the answer of the three questions so as to get enlightenment.
Thethree questions were: what was the right time for every action, who were theright people to be with and what was the most important thing to do. Heproclaimed that he would give a great reward to the person who can answer histhree questions.
A lotof learned men came up with their answers. Unfortunately, their answers did notsatisfy the king. So the king decided to consult a wise hermit. He saw thehermit digging the ground and out of compassion, he did it for the hermit. Hekept on asking the three questions but the hermit kept silent until hourspassed and it was already sunset.
Thehermit saw a bearded man running and his hands on his stomach. He was woundedand dying; the hermit told the king about it and they helped the bearded man.
Thenext day, the king woke up and the bearded man saw him and apologized to him.He admitted that he was an enemy of the king. The bearded man said that heheard about the king going to the hermit so he tried to kill him when he was inhis way back home but he failed.
Theking asked the hermit once again for his answers to which the hermit said thatthe most important time is our present because it is the only moment when wehave the power to act. The most important person at a moment is we ourselvesbecause the future is unpredictable and the most important business is to bekind and good to others because we have been sent in this world to serve thisnoble cause.
Sothis way the hermit tells the king that all the answers are within himself. Byhelping the wounded man and by spending time with the hermit he gets to knowthe answer to his questions which he got through self-realization. He learnedto do good to others without thinking about own self.
1.What were the three questions that occurred to the king? What did he do get theanswer to his question?
Ans:The three questions that occurred to the king were if he was always aware ofthe right time to start everything, whether he had the knowledge of who theperfect people to listen to, and whom to get rid of, and at last if he wasalive to do what the most genuine work to perform. To get the answer to hisquestions, he announced a great reward for anybody who would answer these threequestions satisfactorily.
2.What answer did the wise men give to his first question?
Ans:The happy prospect of being rewarded by the king fabulously attracted many wisemen. They made a beeline to the presence of the king hoping to answer hisquestions. In reply to the first question, some suggested that the king oughtto consult a table of days, month and years in order to know the right time todo the right work. Other advised him to consult a council. Yet there were somewho even suggested to the king to seek the help of a magician in the matter.
3.How did the wise men answer his second question?
Ans:In reply to the second question, the wise men were not unanimous in theiranswer. Some said that king should consult his Councillors. Other said heshould consult priests and doctors; while some said the warriors were the mostnecessary.
4.What answers did the king get third question?
Ans:The king got various answers for his third question form the wise men. In theiropinion they differ from each other. Some wise men replied that the importantthing in the world was science. To others It was skill in warfare. The answerdid not end there. Some other wise men replied that it was religious worship.
5.Why did he decide to consult a hermit?
Ans:Different answers to his three important questions failed to satisfy the king.In other words, he did not subscribe to any of the answers provided by the wisemen. There was a hermit who was exceedingly famous for his wisdom. Therefore,the king decides to consult a hermit.
1.Where did the king meet the hermit? How did the hermit receive the king?
Ans:The king wore simple clothes to meet the hermit in the wood which was hispermanent abode. The hermit’s meeting was only confined to the common folk.However, he received the king as usual. There was not a touch ofextra-ordinariness about it. After greeting the king, the hermit kept ondigging the ground in front of his hut.
2.How did the king help the hermit?
Ans:The king saw the hermit digging the ground single-handily. The old man was weakand frail and skinny. He seemed exhausted. The king took pity on him and kindhe was, he wished to lend a helping hand to the holy man. He took the spadefrom him and dug the ground himself. Thus, the king helped the hermit.
3.How did the king nurse the wounded stranger?
Ans:As soon as the king saw the wounded stranger, he along with the hermit openedhis clothing. He carefully washed and bandaged the large wound in his stomachwith his handkerchief, yet the blood kept on flowing. Therefore, the king againand again removed the bandage soaked with blood, and washed and bandaged itonce again. At last blood stopped flowing. The injured man came to his sensesand asked for water. The king rose to the occasion. At last, he along with thehermit carried the wounded stranger to the hut.
4.Why did the wounded person desire to serve the king as his most faithful slave?
Ans:The wounded man has die-hard enemy of the king. The king had executed hisbrother and confiscated his property. So the man wanted to take revenge bykilling the king while he was playing visit to the hermit alone. But the waywith which the king nursed him and saved his life moved the man. It wasunbelievable. The hostility he had matured for the king vanished. His heart wasfilled with repentance. Therefore, the wounded person desired to serve the kingas his most faithful servant.
1.How did the hermit answer the king’s questions?
Ans:Before talking leave of him, the king again asked the hermit to answer histhree questions, but he was told that he had already been answered. The mostimportant time for him the day before was when he was digging he bed; the mostimportant man was hermit. Afterwards when he attended to the wounded strangerthat was the right time, the stranger the right man and the help given was themost important work otherwise the injured man would have died. Therefore, theright time is always the present time, the most important man is one whom onedeals with at that time and the right occupation is to help other.
2.Was the king satisfied with the hermit’s answer? Give a reasoned answer?
Ans:The king was greatly satisfied with the hermit’s answers. Each answer thehermit gave to the question was relevant. For instance, the enemy would havekilled the king, had he not dug the ground and consequently, stayed withhim.The hermit’s focus on ‘now’ impressed him most. The king wassatisfied, when the hermit wanted him to do good to the man of that moment isthe most important affair, because God has created man only for this purpose.